The sun fired off its strongest solar flare of 2016 during an active weekend that saw three eruptions from the star's surface. 

The uptick in solar activity occurred overnight on Friday and Saturday (July 22 and 23) when the sun unleashed three relatively moderate solar flares, all of which were captured on video by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory. While all three were somewhat minor, they are the first substantial solar events in months, NASA officials said in a statement. 

The first solar flare registered as an M5.0 sun storm and peaked Friday night at 10:11 p.m. EDT (0211 July 23 GMT). It was followed by a second, more-intense flare, which peaked as an M7.5-class solar storm on Saturday at 1:16 a.m. EDT (0516 GMT). A third, M5.5-class flare peaked 15 minutes later, at 1:31 a.m. EDT (0531 GMT). [How Solar Flares Work (Infographic)]  

A closeup of the M7.6-class solar flare that erupted from the sun on July 23, 2016 as seen by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory.
A closeup of the M7.6-class solar flare that erupted from the sun on July 23, 2016 as seen by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory.
Credit: NASA

The M7.5 flare was the strongest sun storm of 2016, according to Spaceweather.com,  a website that tracks space-weather events. But it was still nowhere near the most powerful types of flares the sun can unleash.

"These flares were classified as M-level flares. M-class flares are the category just below the most intense flares, X-class flares," NASA officials explained in their statement. "The number provides more information about its strength. An M2 is twice as intense as an M1, an M3 is three times as intense, etc."

Many of us take the sun for granted, giving it little thought until it scorches our skin or gets in our eyes. But our star is a fascinating and complex object, a gigantic fusion reactor that gives us life. How much do you know about the sun?
This image, captured by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) on March 10, 2012, shows an active region on the sun, seen as the bright spot to the right. Designated AR 1429, the spot has so far produced three X-class flares and numerous M-class flares.
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Solar Quiz: How Well Do You Know Our Sun?
Many of us take the sun for granted, giving it little thought until it scorches our skin or gets in our eyes. But our star is a fascinating and complex object, a gigantic fusion reactor that gives us life. How much do you know about the sun?
This image, captured by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) on March 10, 2012, shows an active region on the sun, seen as the bright spot to the right. Designated AR 1429, the spot has so far produced three X-class flares and numerous M-class flares.
0 of questions complete

When aimed directly at Earth, the strongest X-class solar flares can potentially pose a risk to astronauts in space, and may also disrupt GPS and communications-satellite signals.

"The sun is currently in a period of low activity, moving toward what's called solar minimum, when there are few to no solar eruptions. So these flares were the first large ones observed since April," NASA officials said. "They are categorized as midstrength flares, substantially less intense than the most powerful solar flares."

Email Tariq Malik at tmalik@space.com or follow him @tariqjmalik and Google+. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook and Google+. Original article on Space.com.